Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at the Windows Vista launch in 2007.Credit: IDGNS New York
Windows Vista, the perception-plagued operating system Microsoft debuted to the general public in early 2007, has sunk to near insignificance, powering just two out of every 100 Windows personal computers, new data shows.
According to analytics provider Net Applications, Windows Vista's user share, an estimate based on counting unique visitors to tens of thousands of websites, stood at 2% at the end of July.
Vista has been in decline since October 2009, when it peaked at 20% of all in-use Windows editions. Not coincidentally, that month also saw the launch of Vista's replacement -- and Microsoft's savior -- Windows 7. Within a year, Vista's user share had slumped to less than 15%, and in less than two years fell below 10%.
Since then, however, Vista users have dragged their feet: The OS took another four years to leak another eight percentage points of user share. Projections based on the current average monthly decline over the past year signal that Vista won't drop under the 1% mark until April 2016.
Vista's problems have been well chronicled. It was two-and-a-half years late, for one. Then there were the device driver issues and ballyhoo over User Account Control (UAC). It was even the focus of an unsuccessful class-action lawsuit that alleged Microsoft duped consumers into buying "Vista Capable"-labeled PCs, a case that revealed embarrassing admissions by senior executives who had trouble figuring it out.
Even former CEO Steve Ballmer admitted it was a blunder. In a pseudo-exit interview in 2013 with long-time Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet, Ballmer cited Vista as "the thing I regret most," tacitly setting most of Microsoft's then-problems on the OS's doorstep, from its failure in mobile to the slump in PC shipments.
Those still running Vista -- using Microsoft's claim that 1.5 billion devices run Windows, Vista's share comes to around 30 million -- have been left out in the cold by Microsoft and its Windows 10 upgrade: Vista PCs are not eligible for the free deal.
It's actually good, at least for Microsoft, that Vista is on so few systems. The company will ship the last security updates for the aged OS on April 17, 2017, 20 months from now.
And there is a silver lining for Vista owners: At least their OS is more popular than Linux.
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